Digest for international stories for week Apr 10 - Apr 16, 2021

·4-min read

Saturday Beijing: China's antitrust regulators on Saturday slapped a record fine of USD 2.78 billion on Alibaba Group, the world's biggest e-commerce company, for abusing its dominant market position as Beijing tightened the screws on the country's tech giants.

Dubai: The United Arab Emirates named the next two astronauts in its space programme Saturday, including the country's first female astronaut.

London: Gun salutes in all capitals of the United Kingdom as well as aboard some Royal Navy ships on Saturday honoured Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, who passed away aged 99 at Windsor Castle on Friday.

Sunday Dubai: Iran on Sunday described a blackout at its underground Natanz atomic facility an act of “nuclear terrorism,” raising regional tensions as world powers and Tehran continue to negotiate over its tattered nuclear deal.

Beijing: In a rare admission of the weakness of Chinese coronavirus vaccines, the country's top disease control official says their effectiveness is low and the government is considering mixing them to get a boost.

London: Non-essential retail shops, including shopping malls, pubs and restaurants and hairdressers are among the businesses gearing up to reopen their doors to customers from Monday, when England enters its next stage of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions being eased.

Monday Yangon (Myanmar): Myanmar's ruling military squared off against its opponents in the courts, the streets and the countryside Monday, showing no sign of relenting in its crackdown against those opposed to February's coup.

Lahore: Eminent Pakistani human rights activist and Magsaysay award winner I A Rehman, a strong voice for the country's minorities including Christians and Hindus and an advocate of peace between India and Pakistan, died here on Monday at the age of 90, according to his family.

Dhaka: Indian Army chief Gen M M Naravane on Monday attended the closing ceremony of the 10-day-long multilateral UN-mandated counterterrorism exercise held in Bangladesh and praised the members of the Army contingent from India who participated in the drills.

Tuesday Washington: US President Joe Biden on Tuesday said that he has planned to have all American troops out of war-torn Afghanistan by September 11 this year, the 20th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attack on the twin-towers in New York.

Washington: The US is recommending a “pause” in using the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots.

London: The National Health Service (NHS) in England on Tuesday expanded the COVID-19 vaccination programme to the next cohort on its age-based priority list to all above 45 years of age, after it announced that the target to cover over-50s had been met ahead of the April 15 deadline.

Wednesday London: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reduced the length of his visit to New Delhi at the end of this month due to the COVID-19 situation in India, Downing Street said on Wednesday.

Islamabad/Lahore: Pakistan on Wednesday decided to ban a radical Islamist party under the Terrorism Act after its supporters clashed with the law enforcement agencies for the third consecutive day, leaving seven persons dead and over 300 policemen injured.

Colombo: Sri Lanka has banned 11 hardline Islamist organisations, including the Islamic State (ISIS) and al-Qaeda, for their links to extremist activities in the country and warned that any person who conspires with them would be sentenced to prison terms between 20 and 10 years, according to an official announcement.

Thursday Paris: France on Thursday became the third country in Europe after the UK and Italy to reach the unwanted milestone of 100,000 COVID-19-related deaths as new infections and deaths surged due to virus variants.

Washington: The US on Thursday announced the expulsion 10 Russian diplomats and slapped sanctions on over 30 individuals and key financial institutions as it held Moscow accountable for interference in last year's presidential election and the hacking of American federal agencies.

Washington: Google on Thursday pledged funds for 250,000 COVID-19 vaccinations and technical assistance towards vaccine delivery in low- and middle-income countries amidst a surge in infections across the world.

Friday Indianapolis: A gunman killed eight people and wounded several others before apparently taking his own life in a late-night attack at a FedEx facility near the Indianapolis airport, police said, in the latest in a spate of mass shootings in the United States after a relative lull during the pandemic.

Dubai: Iran began enriching uranium Friday to its highest level ever, edging closer to weapons-grade levels to pressure talks in Vienna aimed at restoring its nuclear deal with world powers after an attack on its main atomic site.

London: UK health authorities have identified 77 cases of the highly infectious B.1.617 variant of coronavirus which causes COVID-19, first found in India, and has designated it a Variant Under Investigation (VUI). PTI MAH MAH